Move Over Canola Oil: Avocado Oil Is the New ‘It’ Oil to Have in Your Pantry
Have you tried avocado oil? It's gaining popularity as a tasty and healthy alternative.
There’s an ongoing debate over the best oils for frying and other uses in the kitchen. Besides mainstays like olive oil and canola oil, in recent years we’ve seen the rise of peanut oil, coconut oil, sunflower oil, pumpkin seed oil and others. Every new one we hear about makes claims for being the healthiest oil or the best cooking oil for home chefs. Avocado oil is now the latest craze in cooking oils.
“Avocado oil is finally going mainstream,” said Whole Foods when it recently announced its top food trends for 2023. “Taking the place of other oils like canola and safflower oil in snacks, mayonnaise, ready-to-eat meals and more, avocado oil is sure to stick around.” For certain recipes, avocado may be the best oil of them all.
What is Avocado Oil?
Avocado oil is one of the few oils not derived from seeds. It’s made from the fatty flesh of avocado fruit, which is pulped and pressed. (Though it’s categorized as a vegetable oil, avocados are actually fruit.)
As with olive oil, avocado oil made from the first pressing is called “extra virgin.” It should be bright green in color and has a deep, rich, nutty, somewhat sweet, almost foresty, flavor. There is also “refined” versions, which have been filtered and do not have the same green color.
Why Should I Use It?
Of all the cooking oils, avocado oil has the highest smoke point, which is the temperature at which oil starts to burn and smoke, ruining the food you’re cooking. Every cooking fat, be it butter, margarine or canola oil, has a smoke point. Canola oil is 400°F; Olive oil is 375 to 400°F and peanut oil is 450°F. By comparison, avocado oil has a whopping 520°F smoke point, meaning it’s great for frying.
Is Avocado Oil Healthy?
Avocado oil has bunch of positive health benefits, including using for silky, smooth hair and to scrub on dry skin. As food, there is growing research evidence that shows avocado oil is heart-healthy and high in oleic acid, an unsaturated fat. It is also lower in cholesterol and contains lutein and vitamin E, important for eye and skin health.
What Should I Watch Out For?
Avocado oil tends to be a little more expensive than other oils. Once opened, you should use it within six months, so be sure to buy it in small quantities.
Also, until recently, the avocado oil business has been somewhat chaotic and under scrutiny. In 2020, researchers at University of California, Davis found that a majority of avocado oil on the market was either rancid or had been adulterated with other oils. They called for “urgent need to develop standards for avocado oil to protect consumers.” The industry took heed and there is now much higher-quality oil available on the market. Retailers like Whole Foods have taken the lead in setting their own standards for the oil.